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July 2010
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Baptisias or False Indigo: characteristics, growing and planting conditions and uses of the plant.

Baptisia australis, or blue false indigo is a native American beauty. Baptisa has an upright, shrubby form. It is a beautiful perennial in leaf and flower. False indigo (Baptisia australis) is joy for gardeners. It is hardy, virtually pest and maintenance free and provides interest in the garden all year long.
The Baptisias are strong growing plants with yellow, white and dark blue flowers. The flowers grow on a spike about 6 inches long. False Indigo (Baptisia australis) grows about 3 feet high, has dark blue flowers and dark bluish-green leaves cut very deeply to form three oval leaflets. These plants bloom from May through July.
False indigo has a rounded growth habit and is never invasive. Plant it freely with other plants. After blooming, false indigo takes on a shrubby appearance.

Growing Conditions for Baptisias

– Baptisias should be planted in full sunlight.
– They are shy in nature if planted in shade.
– They will stand dry, sandy soils.
– Soil of pH of 5.5 to 7 is necessary.
– It is successfully grown in hardiness zones 3 through 9.
– In outdoors, sow out the seeds at a depth of 6mm either in the early spring or late in the autumn.
– In indoors, sow in peat pots six to eight weeks before planning to transplant into the garden.
– Propagation is done from seeds.
– Division of the plants which are very woody at the crown.
– The seeds should be sown as soon as they are gathered and wintered over in the coldframe, where they will germinate the following Spring.
– It takes two or three years to become fully established.

Uses of Baptisias

– Ornamental backdrop of bluish-purple flowers and bright green foliage.
– Perfect for a border or a show stopping centerpiece for a spiral garden.

Maintenance of Baptisias

– Baptisia requires very little maintenance. Keep it watered regularly for the first year. Once established, Baptisia is very drought tolerant.
– Give your Baptisia a modest shearing after flowering.
– Baptisia leaves turn an unattractive black with the first hard frost and the plants tend to collapse by mid-winter, so cutting them back in fall is usually recommended.

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